Posts Tagged ‘Labour’

Vote in St. Peter’s & North Laine

Posted 07 Jul 2010 — by Jonathan
Category Politics

Pretty sure I’ve used my blog to tell you all how to vote several times over the last seven or eight years, so there’s no reason, I don’t think, why I should stop now. Politics in Brighton is always interesting, if beset by all the usual bickering and grandstanding one encounters in local politics, and colourful, too. We Brighton folk are very lucky in that we get to choose, tomorrow, between two fine candidates in a local election which is likely to return either a Green or a Labour representative to the local council.

If you are a local reader, I would heartily recommend you spend a bit of time reading up on the two candidates (this head-to-head is a good place to start). Further, I can say that the young man campaigning for Labour, Tom French, has run an exceptionally energetic campaign. He’s only 24, but he’s thoughtful, erudite and independent. You could do a great deal worse than lend him your vote. Even though I’m a Labour member, I’m delighted to have Caroline Lucas as my MP and a majority of Greens on the council – but with Greens powerful locally and the Tories and Lib Dems in power nationally, the case for a local Labour councillor is strong. Important decisions get made locally, for all the attention that national politics gets, and Tom would be a great component in that decision-making process. So – vote.

Siblings and risk taking

Posted 29 May 2010 — by Jonathan
Category Politics

I’ve written on Assistant Blog before about my interest in siblings. As an only child I’m entirely happy with being sibling-less, and never once considered the thought that I was in any way missing out when I was younger. Nevertheless, it remains a fascination for me, and I find myself endlessly attracted to books, songs, news stories about brothers and sisters. At work this week this came up in some discussion or other, and I successfully bullied Deb into saying she’d be my sister. Not sure it counts though.

Anyway, regular readers of my blog will not be surprised to hear that I’m getting quite excited and involved in the Labour Leadership debate – I could never celebrate Labour’s departure from power and the subsequent Tory-liberal coalition which replaced it, but I do cautiously welcome the opportunity for Labour to rediscover its priorities. I’m far from convinced that the current candidates will produce the debate we need (in fact I wonder if the battle for Labour’s London mayoral candidate, which could well involve not just Ken Livingstone and Oona King but also Peter Mandelson, might be bolder), but I’m hopeful that Labour party members will keep an open mind for as long as possible and think radically about how the direction that the party needs to evolve.

I was always going to be interested in the leadership election, but the fact that the two frontrunners are David and Ed Milliband is particularly fascinating for me. There isn’t, in ideological terms, much between them – I sense that Ed is slightly less bound by Labour’s record than David’s, but that’s a happy coincidence for him, having only entered the House of Commons in 2005, rather than an indicator of a radical streak. So what seems to be separating them in their campaigns is their approach, rather than their values (I’m wholly opposed to this being a choice taken on ‘personality’ but I do recognise that approach is important – and I’m unsure how that can be assessed without taking a long look at personalities. Yes, contradiction). My instinct, early on, is that Ed – the younger brother – is the man best placed to relaunch Labour; he seems more conversational, more engaged, more down to earth, and slightly less cautious.

Interestingly, this fascinating blog post by Ian Leslie seems to bear that notion out, although does so by way of some rather circuitous speculation. It’s very very interesting though. Prompted by research by the evolutionary psychologist Frank Sulloway, Ian takes a look at evidence which points to the importance of birth order in determining character traits. The question Ian asks is ‘which brother will be more likely to take bold risks as Labour leader?’. By examining a huge data set of information about successful siblings through the ages, Sulloway’s observations are very interesting. Ian quotes the New Yorker:

In the family, firstborns identify more strongly with power and authority than their siblings do, they employ their superior size and strength to defend their special status and frequently “minimize the costs of having siblings by dominating them.”In their relations with siblings, firstborns are more assertive, jealous, and defensive than laterborns. They also tend to be more self-confident, and are overrepresented among Nobel Prize winners and political leaders, including American Presidents and British prime ministers. Churchill, Washington, Ayn Rand, and Rush Limbaugh might be taken as illustrative.

As the underdogs of the family, laterborns are more inclined to identify with the downtrodden and to question the status quo-sometimes to the point of becoming revolutionaries. They are more open to experience, because this openness aids them, as latecomers to the family, in finding an unoccupied niche. Their openness tends to make them more imaginative, creative, independent, altruistic, and liberal. From their ranks have come the bold explorers, the iconoclasts, and the heretics of history. Joan of Arc, Marx, Lenin, Jefferson, Rousseau, Virginia Woolf, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Bill Gates typify the behavior of laterborn siblings.

Sulloway’s latest research has focused on sporting siblings, and the frequency in Baseball in which the younger brother ’steals bases’ (a bold tactical manouvre). The results echo the conclusions reached above – the younger sibling, in 90% of scenarios, takes more risks.

This is fascinating stuff – please do go over to Ian’s post and have a proper read. Incidentally, he doesn’t mention Obama, strangely (given that he authored a terrific book about the US election) – but that can be easily explained. Obama has eight half-siblings; that’s way too complicated for this discussion…